I love watching American Idol. I delight in watching the singers with promise juxtaposed with the delusional. I love watching underdogs overcome favorites. I hope to hear old songs sung new ways.
The process kind of reminds me of writing. Often you submit before you’re ready, but you keep trying, you grow, and sometimes you make your dream come true.
And I really like the new judges. Jennifer Lopez is kind and charming. Steven Tyler makes me smile. Who else but a bona fide rock star could wear a pink ruffled shirt with such aplomb? My whole family enjoys pooching out our lips and mimicking his little head-bob to the music. And Randy will always be my dawg.
But last night I found myself missing the industry/marketing perspective: Simon’s critical voice.
Last night Jennifer Lopez told one mediocre crooner that she’d do better next time. No! She sounded like a housewife, um, singing along to her ringtone at the grocery store past midnight… (I miss Simon’s analogies too.) As creative people, the judges want to encourage and nurture the contestants.
I get that.
That’s why I usually advise newer writers to seek out critiques from authors, not editors and agents, at conferences. An author will give a beginning writer a bit of cheerleading–yes, you can–along with concrete writing advice. Industry professionals often look at conference submissions in terms of marketability.
That’s what the top 13 on American Idol needs: criticism with marketability in mind. All of these contestants can sing, but not all of them have what it takes–right now–to sing radio hits.
Just like not all stories are ready to be books. My inner Simon: this manuscript should be lining the cage of a canary who sings like a pitchy American Idol wannabe…
I do miss Simon’s honest and colorful critiques. I wonder what he’d look like wearing pink ruffles?